Rory McIlroy enjoyed a belated birthday present with a superb second round of 66 in the Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy is seeking an eighth top-10 finish in 10 appearances at Quail Hollow, a venue which provided him a first PGA Tour title in 2010 and another in 2015 following a course-record 61 in round three.
That looked a tall order following an opening 72, but McIlroy – who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Tuesday – surged up the leaderboard with the aid of six birdies and a solitary bogey to post a halfway total of four under par.
"The one thing that I was really happy about coming in here this week was my iron play, felt like I really found something last week," said McIlroy, who is 15th in the world rankings, his lowest position since November 2009, and missed the cut in the Masters last month.
"I didn't get a chance to show it yesterday because I wasn't finding the fairway very much, but today, just having some more opportunities to hit good iron shots and give myself birdie chances, I was able to show it a bit today and it was nice.
"When you play the way I played through that stretch in March and into April, you're going to feel like you're not as close (to playing well ) as you probably are.
"But I worked hard after Augusta. I took a week off and reset, which I needed, but then I put my head down and worked hard and at least felt better about everything coming in here."
England's Matt Wallace was also firmly in contention for a first PGA Tour title after adding a 67 to his opening 69 to reach six under.
"This is the next step," Wallace said. "I've always tried to progress my career in ways where I put myself in sticky spots, you know. And it's tough over here. The PGA Tour is really tough.
"The golf courses are amazing, they're big, the players from top to bottom can
win, and so it's very difficult to get it done."